Cord Blood: What You Need to Know

July is National Cord Blood Awareness Month, making it the perfect time to learn more about cord blood. Umbilical cord blood, commonly referred to as cord blood, is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord after a baby has been delivered. In the past, cord blood was frequently discarded, but parents now often choose to have it collected soon after delivery so that it can either be saved and stored for future use within their family or donated to a public cord blood bank where it might be used by others in need, or for research.

Cord Blood Awareness

If you’re not familiar with cord blood, at this point you’re probably wondering why a new parent would want to save or donate it. The answer is that cord blood is rich in stem cells and can be used at a later date in a stem cell transplant to help someone who is sick with a blood cancer or some other form of malignancy. Essentially, a stem cell transplant can be used to replenish the sick person’s blood with healthy cells, in many cases saving their life. Most frequently, cord blood is used in stem cell transplants for sick babies and children. To date, thousands of lives have been saved with cord blood that’s been used in stem cell transplants after being donated to public cord blood banks.

How should someone consider when deciding what to do with their cord blood?
Many people choose to donate their cord blood. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that people donate cord blood to public cord blood banks in most situations.

“Most parents will never need cord blood for their own family’s use, but they can donate this precious life-saving gift to benefit others,” they said in a statement.

Donating cord blood is free at participating facilities and it has immense potential to help sick people in the future. Even if you choose to donate your cord blood, there’s still a chance you can use it in the future should a need arise, though the chances of it being available decrease over time.

Of course, parents can also choose to store cord blood in a private cord blood bank so that it can be saved for their family’s personal use in the future. However, there are a few considerations here. The first consideration is cost, as the charges for collection and private storage of the cord blood can be quite expensive. In addition to the initial fees, you will continue to be charged annually over time. The next factor you’ll want to consider is that there is no guarantee that the cord blood you store privately will be suitable for use in a transplant if the need arises. Lastly, there’s only a slim chance you will ever use the banked blood.

Can a family decide what to do with cord blood at the time of delivery?
It’s important that a family to decides in advance if they want to save their cord blood. You’ll need to register ahead of time so that the supplies needed for storing cord blood are present at the time of delivery, otherwise, it won’t be an option. Because of this, it’s really important to speak with a physician about cord blood donation or storage well in advance of delivery.

Is it safe to save cord blood?
Saving cord blood, whether for donation or potential personal use, is safe and won’t interfere with the delivery of your baby in any way, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

If you would like to meet with a knowledgeable doctor, consider contacting Arizona OB/GYN Affiliates (AOA) at 602-343-6174 or visit www.aoafamily.com. We have offices in Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Casa Grande, Goodyear, Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler.

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